Role of Religiosity in the Lives of the Low-Income Population: A Comprehensive Review of the Evidence. New Research


The limited number of studies that focus on the role of religiosity on crime and violence outcomes among low-income populations and the gaps in research described in the previous section suggest that this research area is fertile ground for future research. Although the one mixed-method study included in this topical review provided some context for understanding the role of religiosity in crime and violence outcomes, future studies may benefit from collecting data that examine the level of integration individuals have with a religious community and the amount of time spent socializing with members of a religious organization. These factors may have a powerful deterrent effect on crime and violence.

Giordano, Longmore, Schroeder, and Seffrin (2008) highlight some of the difficulties in effecting lasting changes in crime-related outcomes through religious faith alone. Giordano concludes that there may be social and economic factors that also influence ones desistance from crime either alone or in combination with religiosity factors. This idea is consistent with some of the current work in prisoner rehabilitation research (Johnson & Larson, 2006). In this work, employment counseling and job training, along with spiritual guidance, operate as a multicomponent rehabilitation program.

Lastly, there is an abundance of research examining specific low-income populations that have engaged in crime and/or violence, but most studies do not include measures of religiosity. Such studies include research on individuals who are re-entering their communities after tenures in prisons or juvenile facilities, at-risk youths, and gangs, to name a few. Understanding the role that religiosity may play in the deterrence of crime for these populations may have significant implications for program development and for general life outcomes in these populations.

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